Life on the Ark: A Visualization

The Zanesville Animal Catastrophe a Decade Later

Life on the Ark is a podcast series that reflects on the legacies of a 2011 incident in Zanesville, Ohio, during which fifty exotic animals were killed by county police upon being released by their owner. Through in-depth interviews with people directly impacted by the incident, the series shows how the Zanesville catastrophe has altered local life, state and federal laws, and the world we share with 

other animals.



I worked directly with Kelly, visually interpreting his research on the podcast. ​This body of work is dedicated to the 56 apex predators that were owned by Terry Thompson, and the 49 that were killed that night. Each piece reacts to specific first-hand accounts from the police officers, animal specialists, and neighbors of the property. I hope that these pieces serve as a visual aide to the podcast, helping the audience understand and empathize with all perspectives given throughout the story.


On View:

The Art Academy of Cincinnati, Aug 18th -Sept 23rd 2022
Xavier University, November 2022

 

Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account)
Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account)

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Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account) (detail)
Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account) (detail)

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Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account)
Horse in a Field (Sam Kopchak's Account)

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Oil on canvas, H 30" x W 45", 2022

The first eye-witness to the Zanesville incident was Terry Thompson’s neighbor, Sam Kopchak, who described seeing a black figure encircled by horses in Thompson’s field. Kopchak’s mother, Dolly, placed the first emergency call to authorities.



 

Soloman
Soloman

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Soloman (detail)
Soloman (detail)

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Soloman
Soloman

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Oil on canvas, H 24" x W 36", 2022

When first responders arrived on the farm, they saw a white tiger standing over a human figure lying in the grass. The brutal scene encapsulates the carnage of the night.



 

Antony
Antony

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Antony (detail)
Antony (detail)

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Antony
Antony

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Oil on canvas, H 32" x W 46", 2022

The black leopard Antony was one of the few animals to survive the incident. He is shown in a dark field with two alternative scenarios that could’ve played out that night: one is his dead body on the ground; the other is him lunging at the viewer.



 

Rolling Tiger
Rolling Tiger

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Rolling Tiger (detail)
Rolling Tiger (detail)

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Rolling Tiger
Rolling Tiger

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Oil on canvas, H 24" x W 24", 2022

The police who responded to the event emphasized the big cats’ resilience to their weapons. While some animals went down quickly, the tigers kept fighting, sometimes rolling for 30-40ft before succumbing.



 

Bus Stop, 7am
Bus Stop, 7am

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Bus Stop, 7am (detail)
Bus Stop, 7am (detail)

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Bus Stop, 7am
Bus Stop, 7am

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Oil on canvas, H 36" x W 48", 2022

While this scenario with the wolves never happened, it was on the forefront of everybody’s mind that night. How would the community guarantee the safety of the most vulnerable if Thompson’s animals weren’t captured or killed?



 

Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm)
Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm)

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Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm) (detail)
Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm) (detail)

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Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm)
Motocross Track (Formerly the Thompson Farm)

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Oil on canvas, H 32" x W 56", 2022

After the 2011 incident, the Thompson farm was sold to friends of the family and converted to a Motocross track. The remains of the 50 slain animals are buried on the property in a mass grave.